NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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追戸横穴墓群 Oido-yokoana-bo-gun Oido Yokoana Tombs

Jp En

There are several hundred “yokoana,” or “horizontal holes,” carved into the southern side of Nonodake Hill from Oido to Nakano in Wakuya Town, Miyagi Prefecture. They are the ruins of tombs built from the late 7th to the early 8th centuries.

The site is designated as a historic site by the municipal government. The area including 9 of the caves is arranged into Oido Yokoana History Park and open to the public.

The largest tomb is 9 meters in total length. At the end of the cave is the house-shaped chamber, which has three platforms to place coffins on. The walls of another cave are decorated with chisel carvings and painted red with bengara (iron rust). Pieces of beads made of glass, jade, agate and amber have been excavated, from which it is inferred that those are the tombs of a local ruling family.
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出雲めのう細工 Izumo-menou-zaiku Izumo Agate Work

Jp En

Izumo agate work is a traditional handicraft in Matsue City, Shimane Pref. It is selected as one of Furusato (hometown) Traditional Handicrafts of Shimane Pref. The origin of this craft is said to have been dated back to the mythological age. Curved beads, which were accessories of the ancient noble people, were made out of jade or agate. It is said that many of the ancient curved beads including Yasakani no Magatama, which is thought to be a part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan, were made in Shimane. Agate work in Izumo area started in the late Edo period, and in the Taisho period, there were a lot of workmen engaged in this handicraft in various towns and villages including Tamayu Town. Later the number of the workmen decreased, and at the present time, the skills have been handed down at Agate Work Densho-kan (patrimony workshop). Accessories such as pendants and necklaces as well as curved beads for souvenirs are popular among tourists.
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若狭めのう Wakasa Menou Wakasa Agate Work

Jp En

Wakasa Agate Work, highly regarded internationally, is thought to have originated in the Nara period (710-794AD) when a sea-faring people known as the Wani Tribe entered Onyu, an old village in the Wakasa region of Fukui Pref. They built Wani-Kaido, a road in front of a shrine, which bordered Wakasaichi Buddhist statue, and started producing jade objects.

In the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), a technique to burn ore and enhance the color of agate was perfected. However it was not until the Meiji period (1868-1912) that the sculptural technique of agate was introduced and perfected as a craft art.

It employs the firing techniques that  are unique to Wakasa agate work and, then, hardened ores that glow with beautiful color are cut and painstakingly polished to create such things as Buddhist statues, animal ornaments, incense burners, plummets for hanging scroll, clips for obi (kimono belt), and broaches.

Wakasa agate work requires incredible proficiency and patience taking a minimum of three years to master the polishing technique and another five or six years to be able to fully work the pieces. The apprenticeship can take up to fifteen years, only then will a craftsman be considered a true artist. However, once mastered, the beauty of the clear delicate gloss can be found nowhere but Wakasa agate.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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